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Cass – Just Cass.

My Journey With Mental Illness

Bleeeerrrrrggggggghhhhh

Okay so I am completely overwhelmed.

Between personal issues, pain, school, a recent move, and many other factors, I’m also not sleeping well which has a huge effect on my mental health. BUT. I’m handling it. Barely. I feel like I’m desperately clinging to sanity. I’m so determined to finish this semester. My focus and concentration are forced and limited. But I’m proud of myself, despite agoraphobia seeming to be increasingly a problem.

My thoughts are all over the place, and I’m trying so hard to slow them down. Anxiety is through the roof and it’s taking a lot of skill use to get through it.

Additionally, I have been readmitted to the three week Day Program for mental health at the same hospital I received treatment and walked out of before. I am hopeful as I am in a different place now, but I am also on eggshells thinking of a repeat. The only way to know is to try, and I KNOW structure helps me stabilize, so we’ll see how that goes.

Wish me luck guys, I’m scatterbrained.

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Goals!

On my educational website, I outlined how goal setting usually looks in DBT. In the spirit of helping in the form of leading by example, here are my current personal goals:

Behaviours to Decrease:
– Avoidance/Procrastination
– Inflexibility toward change
– Impulsive spending eating, and skin picking
– Passivity and inattentiveness

Behaviours to Increase:
Embracing instead of avoiding
– Opening up to change (willingness) and “going with the flow”
– Mindfulness of impulsive behaviours
– Assertiveness and boundary setting

Potential Obstacles and Coping Plan:
– Fear > check in with my emotions, cope ahead of time, make a plan
– Willfulness > mindfulness and reminding myself I want to be better
– Procrastination > make a plan to be held accountable to

So there, ladies and gents, are my current goals. What are yours?

It’s been a little while!

It’s been a little while, and I’m proud to say I am doing better than I was. Life, well, seems to remain a roller coaster that I can’t seem to keep up with.

However, I am back in classes and its given me a sense of direction, and something to focus on, which has been really helpful.

I’m going to be putting more effort into my actual webpage, and seeing if I can’t push myself back into DBT by teaching it to others.

Wish me luck!

Review of Medical Cannabis for Anxiety, Depression and Pain

I have tried both heavily concentrated THC and CBD oils, as well as an oil with a 1:2 THC:CBD ratio.

And I must say, I am impressed.

My depression seems to have lifted a bit, my anxiety has definitely been a lot less prominent, and my pain, when treated with CBD oil, is sometimes completely eliminated for a time! I have never felt as though I was harmoniously treating my laundry list of conditions, until now. I feel like between the three oils, something is working and seemingly reducing the edge on nearly all (if not all) of my symptoms.

It’s quite the relief, really; to have something that seems to be working.

That being said, it does seem too good to be true. I am of course cautious – dosing carefully and monitoring effects – waiting for something to go awry.

I am still experimenting and toggling to find the right doses at the right time intervals, but there’s been a marked difference in my mood overall, as well as a reduction in my pain.

Feel free to message me directly with any questions about medical cannabis or my experience with it; I will do my best to provide you with the most hands-on information I can.

More Medication Adjusting + Update

After struggling for a long while with avoiding sleep, my doctor prescribed me seroquel (a medication I was previously unsuccessful with) to try to help put me to sleep – it worked. I also noticed a marked difference in my mood between the days I had taken my seroquel or missed it. So, since it seemed to work for both sleep and mood, my physician tripled my dose (slowly of course) and it seems to be helping.

As for how life in general is going – hectic as hell. Everyday experiences feel like a whirlwind around me and sometimes I just can’t seem to catch my breath. Then there are days I feel like I’m just about to start planting my feet on the ground, but it’s a process and I recognize and accept that the lows I am experiencing are part of my journey, and so I will push forth.

Unfortunate Truth About The Day Program

I’ve been wanting to write about this for days, but it’s still raw and hard to express my emotions surrounding it.

So, I started the day program I was offered. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have agreed in the first place.

I don’t even know where to start. I could literally “teach the program myself” (feedback from group leaders, not my own words). Several times I have been asked to explain my rationale to the group using DBT and CBT concepts because they are the core of the program. So, to begin with, I already know the material they’re going to teach me. I understand it, and can even use it to help others. But sometimes, the skills don’t work for me. I tried to tell this to the psychiatrist managing my case.

The psychiatrist pretty much refuses to change any of my medications or dosages (which was her job…?) because I’m on such a complex cocktail.

Soon, the issue of marijuana came up with the psychiatrist. I had no reason to lie, so I mentioned I’d be self-medicating for a while because it’s the only thing that actually seems to calm me down and help me focus.

And that was all I needed to say. Now, all my issues, new and old, as far as this psychiatrist is concerned, can be traced back to pot. She asked me to cut back during the program and see how I feel. I agreed; not that anything I said mattered after this point.

I continued in the day program for almost 2 weeks. During this period, I had to leave early several times due to anxiety, and on one occasion I got so distressed that I started to just, shut down again. I fell asleep in the group.

So, naturally the psychiatrist wanted to see me after this. I told her what happened and received this response: “But, you had to be relaxed if you fell asleep, right? Relaxed is a good thing!”

No, Doc, with all due respect, I basically fell unconscious because internally I was freaking the hell out, and couldn’t handle it.

“Well, clinically, besides referring you to an addictions specialist, there’s not much I can do for you.”

Quite possibly the most triggering thing I have heard in a while. Essentially, I’m a lost cause because I self-medicate because NOTHING ELSE WORKS, and NO PROFESSIONAL IS WILLING TO LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SAY I NEED HELP, because of their own personal bias against marijuana.

I have mentioned several times that my family doctor is aware of my situation, and that I have an appointment with a specialist regarding my marijuana use. Apparently this meant nothing to them, as they continued to insist that weed MUST be the issue.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for them to be right.

I’m saying I feel like every professional refuses to give me the time of day because they dismiss me as an addict. What they don’t realize is how much worse I’d be if I weren’t able to self-medicate. Maybe that’s the problem.

My weed use may be a crutch; yes, I agree. But it’s the only one I’ve got right now when the medications and the skills don’t work. I’m more than happy to give up marijuana in favor of some kind of treatment that will help as much with my struggles.

I’m just, so tired of being dismissed; I’m worth more than that.

Voices, ER Visit, Follow-up, and a Confession.

Let’s preface with the confession:

I have been self-medicating with marijuana for a long time. In the short term, it reduces my anxiety, and helps me focus. Up until now, I felt educated enough to self-medicate. However, I am aware there is MUCH more to learn and consider.

So anyway.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been having suicidal thoughts, and eventually started hearing voices. After a few days of the auditory delusions, I broke down and went to Emergency with desperate hopes they’d have some sort of help. I went to a hospital further than the one closest to my home, because I knew at the closer one I could end up having to see my previous psychiatrist who, long story short, I did not mesh well with (mainly because she’s robotic and extremely triggering for me.) I reluctantly packed myself a bag, preparing to be kept a few days.

My sister took me to the hospital, and after some technical issues and a little waiting, I got to see a crisis worker. The crisis worker assessed my situation and basically ASKED ME if I would like to be kept for assessment. — (Insert sarcasm shades) Like, no, I just dropped in to let you know I’m hearing things and wanting to harm myself, no biggie.

So, I was taken to a freezing cold room with a bed and a chair. My sister was allowed to stay with me. At this point I was just shutting down from having to repeat my issues to the triage nurses and workers, so I fell asleep while waiting for the psychiatrist. A few hours later, I wake up to a psychiatrist at the end of my bed, ready to ask me ALL the questions. I went over it again with him, and as soon as I mentioned that I have been self-medicating with marijuana, it was as though he stopped listening to me. He made no mention, even, of how dangerous it was for me to be stopping and starting my medication, just that marijuana must be the cause of all my problems.

At this point, the psychiatrist realizes on my record that I have seen (robotic psychiatrist that I am very triggered by), and asks “Oh, (robotic psychiatrist) actually works here at the hospital, would you like to see them?”

OH JOY. This is why I avoided the hospital near my home. But, crisis averted; I assertively told him I would not like to see that psychiatrist.

So then he offered to refer me to their day program. I went into Emergency with suicidal thoughts and auditory hallucinations, and I was discharged a few hours later considerably invalidated, with the reassurance of, “the day program co-ordinator will follow up with you probably in a couple weeks.” Oh, and a script for a low dose of seroquel as needed for sleep. — That’s the help I got. So I came home and self-medicated until I felt numb.

Since then, I have done some (more) research on marijuana and its usefulness versus adverse side effects and determined, it was time to consult a professional, one who wouldn’t simply dismiss me as a pothead.

A day or two later, a voicemail from my new family doctor informs me that my doctor would like to see me regarding my recent ER visit. I thought, hm, she’s been rather non-judgmental, and maybe she’ll have some more to offer than the day program did.

Today, I saw both saw my doctor, and heard from the coordinator of the day program.

The coordinator set me up for their three week intensive outpatient day program. I had to be selective about my start date though, in order to avoid (robotic psychiatrist who I am greatly triggered by,) so I’ll start the third week into September. It will be M-F, 9-2 with occasional check-ins with a psychiatrist.

When I saw my doctor, I explained everything that has been happening. I left feeling heard, understood, validated, and .like I had some professional help in my corner. I told her I no longer qualified to be managing marijuana as a medication for myself, so I was referred to a specialist in medical marijuana who will help me, be it with finding and understanding what I need to be using, or understanding how to quit safely if it’s not a good idea for me. I explained that I was weary about the day program because of (robot psychiatrist)’s involvement, so I was referred to another psychiatrist in case that doesn’t pan out. My doctor advised I start taking the seroquel daily, and increased my clonazepam dose to deal with the excessive anxiety until I can get started with the day program and other supports. My doctor also told me I could visit their office at any time to see them, even if there’s no medical advice to offer, but just to vent.

If anyone has any insight on the medical marijuana issue, or anything to say really, feel free to comment.

So now, I wait.

Amongst this, I am reconsidering my enrollment in school for this semester, which is naturally, for me, associated with negative thinking patterns and self-disgust. However, I need to consider the fact that I may not be as successful in school with so much going on right now. Luckily, I have (a little) time to figure out what I want to do in that aspect.

The next month or two are definitely going to be interesting.

Update and New Website(!!!)

I’ve been quite busy lately.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m still either working from home, doing school from home, or maintaining my home – which consumes a lot of my time.

However, despite advancing in some areas, I am still struggling greatly with agoraphobia, and now, with intrusive thoughts.

I mean, I’ve had intrusive thoughts before, but it never lasted more than a day or so. I’ve been battling this for about a week now, constantly. I feel like I haven’t had a break and it’s making me feel absolutely bonkers.

HOWEVER(!!!)

I have managed, in my spare time, to pick up a .com and start writing about mental health issues from an educational perspective as opposed to a personal perspective. I will still be running this personal blog, but I will also be running CassTalksMentalHealth.com

Feel free to check it out, and share it around. I haven’t decided exactly what form I’ll be putting the education in – I just have so many ideas; I want to post DBT skills tips on a scheduled basis (how often?), I want to do my own articles (how often, or sporadic?) and I want to present tips + tricks I’ve learned along the way. So it’ll be nice to see how it all comes together.

Wish me luck!

 

 

A Work in Progress.

So, tonight I’m reflecting on where I am in my recovery.

The first thing that comes to mind, is that my face is mostly clear all the time now. I’ve reduced picking to a minimum, and this is a huge feat for me.

I still struggle with social anxiety, but I’m so infinitely much more comfortable in my own skin. I’m truly learning the meaning of self love – most days.

I definitely still tackle severe mood swings, but I find I have skills under my belt to help me through certain unjustified emotions.

I’m either working from home, doing my school program from home, and/or maintaining my home on a daily basis. I would say that to be able to juggle all of those things right now, is pretty impressive.

However.

Agoraphobia seems to be kicking my ass. I don’t want to leave my house and when I do I immediately regret it and want to go home. I can’t comfortably spend more than an hour out of my home.

It’s to the point of terror and break downs.

So while I’ve made some great strides in certain areas, I still struggle in some, even more so now than before. But it’s a work in progress; I’ll get there.

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